Shirley and Jack Liebowitz: Israel and Jewish National Fund's Super Heroes
Long after you are gone, will you be remembered?
Yes, you will be remembered in the hearts and minds of your sons, daughters, grandchildren, and perhaps even your great-grandchildren. And outside of your immediate family, you may be remembered for your accomplishments in life. Others will be remembered for the legacy they leave and their lasting impact.
Two such individuals were Jack and Shirley Liebowitz of New York, NY, who left not just one, but two lasting legacies upon their passing— Jack in 2000 and Shirley in 2013. One was left through Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the other through Jack's involvement in the company that has become known the world over as DC Comics.
Born in Proskurov, (present-day) Ukraine in 1900, Liebowitz and his family immigrated to New York City in 1910. By age 24, he had earned a degree in accounting from New York University, and soon after married his first wife, Rose (who died in 1956). Liebowitz subsequently set up shop as an accountant in Manhattan's Union Square, with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) as his primary client.
In 1929, Liebowitz's stepfather, Julius, approached Harry Donenfeld, whom he met through the ILGWU, seeking work for his step-son. Donenfeld took Liebowitz on as his personal accountant for his publishing company, which was distributed by Eastern News. In 1931, Eastern News—operated by Paul Dreyfus and Paul Sampliner—faced bankruptcy, owing Donenfeld $30,000, but a compromise was reached when Donenfeld and Sampliner founded the Independent News Company, a publishing house with its own distribution system. Over time, Donenfeld came to increasingly rely on Liebowitz to make sure the company ran smoothly.
Liebowitz's professional career took off in 1935 when Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson came to Independent News looking for a new distributor for his comic book projects. Among these was Detective Comics, Inc., which was funded through an exclusive partnership with Liebowitz.
By 1938, Liebowitz became the sole owner of the company. He came up with the series, Action Comics, and hired writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, the creators of "Superman." Liebowitz also helped to launch Mad magazine. Liebowitz remained in the forefront, bringing "Superman" to radio, theatrical animated shorts, and television.
DC Comics went public in 1961 and was sold to Kinney National Services in 1967.
Philanthropically involved in many Jewish charities and causes, Liebowitz was a founding member of Long Island Jewish Medical Hospital—known today as Northwell Health— and served on its board for more than 50 years. In addition, he was also a trustee of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in New York.
Through it all, the Liebowitzs remained dedicated to their Jewish heritage and the land and people of Israel. Jack and his second wife, Shirley, who was an accomplished artist, traveled extensively throughout Europe and to Israel.
In addition to being an accomplished artist, Shirley was also an avid collector of valuable paintings and sculptures and friends with Pierre Matisse, a French—born American art dealer and the son of Henri Matisse.
Throughout their lives, the Liebowitzs remained passionate about caring for Jews in need and supporting Israel.
"Ms. Liebowitz was a very caring woman, deeply concerned with the less fortunate both here and in Israel," said Dennis Drebsky, executor of the Liebowitz Estate. "She was especially sensitive to the challenges facing Israel and wanted to use her wealth to help as much as possible," he added.
Subsequently, it was made clear that part of Shirley's residual estate be dedicated to these causes. As a result, because of all the work Jewish National Fund did and continues to do, JNF received $1.4 million to support a senior residence in Be'er Sheva dedicated in memory of Shirley W. and Jack S. Liebowitz.
Shirley will be remembered as a creative painter, a talented pianist, and as woman of culture and compassion for seniors in need.
Jack will be remembered as the man that brought the world "Superman" and as a superman in his own right, with his and Shirley's legacy of helping the land and people of Israel through Jewish National Fund.
For information on how you can leave a lasting legacy, please contact JNF's Planned Giving Department at 800.562.7526 or visit jnflegacy.org.